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Massive expansion planned for iconic hydro plant

Eighty years after its official opening, Tasmania’s Tarraleah hydro power station could be set for a major expansion.

Sitting on the bank of the Nive River, Tarraleah is the oldest of the network of 12 hydro plants that make up the Derwent hydropower scheme.

Hydropower is Australia’s oldest source of renewable energy, currently supplying more than 90 per cent of Tasmania’s electricity needs.

With support from ARENA, Tasmania is setting its sights on becoming the “Battery of the Nation” by exploring the potential to build 2500MW of new pumped hydro, expanding existing hydro assets, expanding the state’s wind generation and improving interconnection with the mainland NEM.

Launching the project last year, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Premier Will Hodgman set the goal of doubling Tasmania’s renewable energy output to power 500,000 extra homes.

ARENA this week announced that it will provide up to $2.5 million in additional funding for Hydro Tasmania to complete feasibility studies into the proposed redevelopment of the Tarraleah power scheme.

Photo: Hydro Tas

The expansion will more than double the capacity from 104MW to 220MW and include 20 hours of storage per cycle.

Since launching in 1914, Tasmania’s state-owned hydro electricity provider – under a number of names – has built a network of 30 power stations.

Tarraleah sits in the upper section of the Derwent scheme, releasing water from large lakes when there is demand for the plant’s electricity. The upper lakes are fed by the Nive and Derwent Rivers, providing a dependable supply of water to drive Tarraleah’s six pelton turbines.

Tarraleah
The Derwent scheme. Image: Hydro Tas

 

The plant discharges into Lake Liapootah, which then cascades water through a series of downstream power stations in the lower section of the Derwent scheme.

Image: Hydro Tas

Taralleah’s electricity could one day power homes across Bass Strait, according to a recent report funded by ARENA as part of feasibility studies for the “Battery of the Nation” project.

Exporting energy to the NEM will require additional interconnection, so ARENA is also jointly funding the development of a business case for a second link across Bass Strait with Tasmania’s network provider TasNetworks.

Hydro Tasmania CEO Steve Davy is optimistic that their plants can deliver a flexible a stable supply of energy to compliment growth in solar and wind.

He said while pumped hydro and wind power attract most of the attention, getting more electricity from existing hydropower assets would also be crucial.

“We can start by finding another 116 MW from Tarraleah. This upgrade will also transform Tarraleah into Tasmania’s first truly 21st century hydropower station – adding stability and flexibility to Australia’s future clean energy market,” Steve Davy said.

Hydro Tasmania believe Tarraleah’s redevelopment could give the plant another 80 years of life.

ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said Tasmania’s hydro resources could have a big role to play as Australia’s energy market transforms over the coming decades.

“This work helps us understand the opportunities for Tasmania’s renewable generators to make a larger contribution to the National Electricity Market,” he said.

“We know that the energy market will transform in coming decades as renewables supply more of our electricity, and rooftop solar and residential batteries make up a bigger part of the system.

“The studies underway in Tasmania will help us map out the best options to maximise the flexibility of the system and deliver value for consumers and the market,” he said.

Tarraleah hydropower redevelopment powers ahead

On behalf of the Australian Government, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has announced up to $2.5 million in funding to Hydro Tasmania to complete final feasibility analysis into the proposed redevelopment of the Tarraleah hydropower scheme in the highlands of Tasmania. The feasibility analysis is expected to cost $5.0 million in total.

If the project is found to be technically and economically feasible, the redevelopment would more than double the scheme’s capacity from 104 megawatts (MW) to 220 MW with 20 hours of storage in one cycle.

The Tarraleah scheme currently generates around 634 GWh per year of largely base load energy, providing around 6.5% of Hydro Tasmania’s annual power generation.

This next stage of work follows on from a pre-feasibility study completed earlier this year which identified and assessed options for the future of the Tarraleah scheme.

The pre-feasibility study, funded by ARENA’s initial commitment to the Battery of the Nation initiative, found that an option to expand the capacity of the Tarraleah scheme and increase its flexibility was potentially feasible. The study concluded that capacity-optimised redevelopment would provide an asset that is best placed to support a future electricity market with higher levels of variable renewable generation.

ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said the reports into assessing options for Tasmania’s hydro assets aligned with the work being completed under the broader ‘Battery of the Nation’ initiative.

“The report helps our understanding of future development opportunities in Tasmania and how they could make a larger contribution to the National Electricity Market (NEM).”

“This full scale feasibility of the Tarraleah scheme will enable Hydro Tasmania to determine the best options in terms of cost, market value and system flexibility. Tarraleah can play an integral part in Tasmania’s Battery of the Nation initiative, setting up a blueprint for increasing the state’s renewable resources to support the future NEM.” Mr Frischknecht said.

The CEO of Hydro Tasmania, Steve Davy, said while pumped hydro and wind power attract most of the attention, getting more electricity from existing hydropower assets would also be crucial.

“We can start by finding another 116 MW from Tarraleah. This upgrade will also transform Tarraleah into Tasmania’s first truly 21st century hydropower station – adding stability and flexibility to Australia’s future clean energy market.”

About the Battery of the Nation

The Battery of the Nation initiative is setting up a blueprint for how Tasmania’s renewable resources are developed over the coming decades. With the support of ARENA, the initiative is advancing studies into projects that if realised, would lock in full energy security for Tasmania, help give Tasmanians access to the lowest possible power prices and deliver reliable, affordable renewable energy. By boosting the hydropower system with pumped hydro, with increased wind generation and more interconnection, Tasmania could also significantly grow its contribution to a future National Electricity Market (NEM).

ARENA has committed $2.5 million in funding for pre-feasibility studies to redevelop existing hydro-electric power stations at Tarraleah and Gordon, to identify and scope high potential Pumped Hydroelectric Energy Storage (PHES) sites and to explore the potential of Tasmania to play an expanded role in the NEM. ARENA has also committed $10 million to funding to TasNetworks for a feasibility study for a second interconnector.

ARENA has also committed up to a further $2.5 million in funding for the full feasibility study into the Tarraleah Scheme redevelopment to be conducted by Hydro Tasmania.

ARENA media contact:

0410 724 227 | media@arena.gov.au

Download this media release (PDF 126KB)

 

Battery of the Nation – Augmenting the Tasmanian Hydropower System